Greek Bouzouki Construction Blog
This is my Greek Bouzouki Construction Blog. I will be posting pictures and an explanation of how I design and make my instruments. I will also be covering other Greek bouzouki topics related to purchase, proper set up, and playing accessories. Please stop by often, and feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

Attaching the neck to the body

June 14th, 2008

Measuring the neck set back

Temporarily attach the top to the body with masking tape.  Then lay a straight edge on the top so that it rests on the top at the head block and runs to the point of the bridge’s location.  Because of the arch in the braces, the straight edge will rise up above the tail block of the instrument.  Measure the distance from the tail block to the bottom of the straight edge.

Routing the tenon in the neck

The tenon in the neck is cut straight into the end of the neck blank, using a specially designed routing jig and a pattern bit.  The top of the tenon is morticed to allow the top of the instrument to be flush with the top of the bare neck. 

Routing mortice in head block

The mortice in the head block is cut at an angle to provide the correct neck set angle.  The correct neck set angle allows the plane of the top of the neck to match the angle of the top from the neck joint to the bridge location.  Using a specially designed router morticing jig, which matches the tenoning jig used above, the correct angle is set by shimming the end of the jig above the tailblock to match the measurement taken in the first step. 

Glueing the neck to the body

The neck is then glued to the body with epoxy, and a small nail is temporarily used to hold the neck in position, until the epoxy cures.

Completing the headstock

June 9th, 2008

Shaping the headstock

The headstock is shaped by tracing around the headstock template and then rough cutting outside the line on the bandsaw.  Then the template is attached with screws, and the headstock is machined to its final shape on the router table with a template bit.

 

Marking the soundhole post holes

The holes for the tuning machines are then laid out and marked.  The holes are drilled before the slots are cut.

Heastock slotting jig

 

The slots are then laid out on the headstock and rouch cut with a coping saw.  The headstock is then placed into the slotting jig, and the slots are accurately machined on the router table with a template bit.

Glueing the head plates

May 30th, 2008

Glueing the head plates

Glue the head plates to the front and back of the headstock.  These add a decorative touch, and also significantly stiffen the headstock. 

Tapering the neck blank

May 28th, 2008

Tapering the neck blank

Lay the neck blank top down on a tapered jib and plane the back with a Wagner Safe-T-Planer chucked in a drill press.  This will taper the back of the neck to the correct dimensions.

 Smoothing the headstock transition

Smooth the transition from the headstock to the neck with a rasp and sandpaper.

Adding the neck reinforcement

April 3rd, 2008

Routing the cavities for the neck reinforcements

Lay the neck assembly top down on a router table, and route cavities for the carbon fiber neck reinforcement bars. 

Glueing neck reinforcement bars

Glue the carbon fiber neck reinforcement bars in place with epoxy, and clamp them down to make sure they are well seated in the cavities.

Level the neck assembly

Once the epoxy has dried, level the top of the neck assembly with a straight edge with sandpaper glued to the bottom.

Cutting the headstock angle

March 25th, 2008

Cuttng the headstock angle

Glue the headstock blank to the front of the neck blank with Titebond glue and a piece of newspaper between the two pieces (this makes it easier to separate after cutting).  When the glue has dried, cut the headstock angle on a table saw with an angle guide, or with a handsaw.  Once the cut is made the excess neck blank wood can be removed from the headstock and the excess headstock wood can be removed from the neck blank with a sharp blow from a mallet.

 Planning the headstock joint

Lay the headstock on top of the neck blank so that the angled cuts line up, and clamp in place.  Plane and sand the two faces so that they are flat, square and smooth.

Glueing the headstock

Flip the headstock over, and glue it in place, making sure to line up the front of the neck blank with the front of the headstock.

 

Making the neck blank

March 22nd, 2008

Materials for neck blank 

The neck blank is made of curly maple (although normally, Basswood is used).  The board is cut into three pieces so that the middle piece is 1/8 inch thick.  Two contrasting pieces of hardwood are inserted to add stiffness to the neck.  Usually, woods such as ebony, rosewood or wenge are used. 

Neck blank being clamped

Titebond or epoxy can be used to glue the pieces together.  Assemble the neck blank, clamp the pieces together and set aside to dry.

Adding the braces to the top

March 20th, 2008

Tapering soundhole reinforcement

The braces are glued to the underside of the top.  Glue in the top seam reinforcement (a thin strip of bracing wood with grain running perpendicular to the grain of the top).  Glue in the soundhole reinforcement plate.  Some makers install the plate so that the grain runs parallel to the grain of the top, however, I install the plate like classical guitar makers, with the grain running perpendicular to the top.  This provides better strength with a thinner plate.  Taper the edges of the plate so that they blend into the top.

Glueing ladder braces

Glue the ladder braces in place with hot hide glue.

Cutting out soundhole

Cut out the soundhole with a deep throat coping saw and bevel the inside edge of the soundhole and reinforcement plate.  

Completed braces

Carve the braces into a tall elliptical shape and taper the ends.  The braces can then be tuned.  Sand the braces.  The top is then set aside in a safe place where the soft wood will not be scratched or marred.

Inlaying the rosette and pickguard

March 17th, 2008

Cutting the rosette

Glue the rosette design onto your inlay material and cut it out with a jeweler’s saw.  Use the same process to cut out the pickguard.

 Routing cavity for rosette

Using a small jeweler’s router with a base, route out the cavities for the rosette and pickguard, after tracing the outline of the inlay onto the soundboard.  Glue the rosette and pickguard in place with epoxy or Cyanoacrylate glue.  After the glue dries, sand the rosette and pickguard flush with the top.  If you are going to put inlays into the pickguard, cut them out and route cavities for them, just like you did for the pickguard. 

Completed inlays

After the glue has dried, sand the inlays flush with the top.  The top side of the soundboard is now complete.

Glueing the soundboard halves

March 15th, 2008

Shooting board

Prepare the soundboard halves by aligning the halves as they were when they were cut from the flitch.  Plane the center glue edge on a shooting board and check the seam by holding the edge together in front of a light to make sure the seam is perfect.

Glueing the soundboard

Make a glue board from a piece of plywood.  Place the two halves next to each other on the board, and  trace around them.  Insert screws into the board along each side just inside the line so that the halves will not lie flat when placed next to eachother.  Apply glue to the edge and push the halves down and together and weight the top so they do not spring back up.  When the glue has dried, plane or surface sand the top to the appropriate thickness.

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